Jo-Anne and I just got back from a two-week cruise down to Monterey. Probably 3 or 4 times a day, one of us would say, "This is great!" "This is so much fun!" It really was -- just enough fear out in the ocean in between stops, the boat snug at night in the harbors (Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and Monterey), reading in the evenings, biking during the days. (The fold-up bikes were the best new discovery in many trips: we were all over on them.)
I realized, looking at the Facebook site, that I've gotta get this thing running again. Problem is: the easy way to do blogging is to use it to be very critical, not to say snide. Much easier to be worked up, to write interesting stuff, etc. I'm no better than anybody else on that, but I'm going to give it another try.
In that vein, going to church on the trip reminded me how vital it is to cleave to your vision, and not let accretions -- well, accrete. Whether it's worship/singing or worship/communion or worship/teaching, the basic element has to be clean of idiosyncratic additions by whoever is up-front. Communion especially: why is it that people think they can improve on the words of Jesus himself? Adding explanations, devotional thoughts, etc. Not to mention admonitions like, "This is the body of Christ." or.... It's Jesus' own words that -- as Peter said -- carry life. Not ours.
Ditto on singing: Just the song. Just the music. No devotional. (I think there were a total of 3 sermons (or one sermon and two sermonettes). Distracting.
But also: let the music be loud "... with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind." Used to be I felt (somewhat) apologetic about this. But not after seeing "Mama Mia" (as some of you know), at the "Curran" in SF. The music there was earsplitting, and the audience was old. I mean -- older than me! Didn't bother them a bit. But, these are the guys who would be very unhappy if they found it louder than they were used to, in church. (I remember one old gal mouthing to me one day "Too Loud!". I smiled, and nodded, "Yes, it is!" I don't think she liked it, but she understood what was going on. We like it loud. If it's quiet enough that you can think about anything else, I say, "Turn it up!"
Mainly, the fragmentation. Very discouraging. Trying to keep ties of friendship among churches -- which can only really happen through friendships among the pastors -- is like Sisyphus rolling his stone uphill, only to have it roll back down each time. We've taken something of a break, I guess, after pretty close friendships with a few like-minded churches dissipated, after the pastors, for various reasons, moved on. But, no question but that we've gotta get back on the horse. After all, if our well-being as a congregation is not affected by the well-being of other churches close by, we're not close enough in terms of loving one another.
Finally, I learned again why Jesus always liked to have a small boat handy, as it says in Mark 3, "...so that he might not be crushed." It is so good -- a small world of its own, out where you are more-than-usually needing to cry unto the Lord for help. Getting to see his creatures (one whale Friday morning, oh joy!) The time with Jo-Anne was wonderful. Hope we get to do this down to Mexico sometime soon.